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Analyst: UC Market Still Kind of a Mess

In case you're wondering what's going on here, welcome to a special edition of RCPU dedicated to unified communications. UC is one of those categories everybody loves to talk (and write) about, but the truth is that there still seems to be a lot of confusion about what exactly it is and who's doing what in it.

We're not here to explain all that -- not today, anyway -- but simply to point out that for all the hype it gets, UC is still very much an emerging space with a jumble of vendors, many very large, competing for both partners and customers. Strictly speaking, we're not even the ones pointing that out; analyst firm Infonetics Research is, with a survey of customers that shows that no vendor has stepped up as a UC leader...yet.

Who will grab the brass ring? It's way too early to say for a lot of reasons. Microsoft and Cisco seem like the two most likely candidates for market domination, but each is taking a technological approach that's very different from the other's, so there's the strong possibility that somebody could lose big time. More likely, though, they'll carve up the market and edge out (or absorb) lesser competitors the way big vendors usually do.

Before any of that happens, though, companies (and partners) are going to have to figure out exactly what they're going to do with UC. IDC says that UC is still misunderstood, like a surly teen or a tortured artist...or, more likely, like a technology that hasn't been around that long and doesn't yet entirely make sense to its market.

The big analyst firm (and RCPU's neighbor in suburban Boston) is going to have a conference in New York in June to try to sort out this UC thing, but we're guessing that we're at least a couple of years away from UC shaking out as a market and even as a clear value proposition to most companies. In the meantime, the best partners can do is probably to watch trends in the technology, follow what vendors are coming out with and, of course, talk to their customers about what they need as far as communications capabilities go.

In other words, if you don't know exactly what you're doing with UC right now, don't panic...yet. Things are still shaking out, and you haven't yet been lost in the shuffle. The whole thing is still a little bit of a mess.

What's your UC strategy? Do you have one yet? Have you bought into a vendor's world view? Send your answers to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on May 09, 2008